City selects developers for Mass Ave project

City officials have picked the apartment specialist J.C. Hart Co., retail developer Paul Kite Co. and architecture firm Schmidt Associates to redevelop a prime Mass Ave parcel currently occupied by the Indianapolis Fire Department.

The development team's plans call for four or five stories of apartments, first-floor retail space and underground parking on the 1.45-acre property bordered by Massachusetts Avenue, North New Jersey Street and East North Street.

The project will likely cost from $30 million to $50 million, industry sources said.

Mayor Greg Ballard is scheduled to join neighborhood leaders and development officials Thursday morning to announce the winning bidder and unveil renderings.

The city selected from among five bids developers submitted in November 2011. But progress on the project slowed to a crawl as controversy raged over an expansion of a downtown tax-increment-financing district to include the Mass Ave area. The City-County Council approved the expansion Oct. 1.

Still, construction likely won’t begin for another year or more since the city must first relocate the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters, Fire Station No. 7 and the Firefighters Credit Union.

The fire headquarters is headed to the former School 97, next door to Arsenal Technical High School. The city has not finalized a location for the new fire station, industry sources said, though a leading site is the northwest corner of Michigan Street and College Avenue, where The Whitsett Group plans to build apartments and retail space.

The real estate brokerage CBRE, which has advised the city on the Mass Ave redevelopment, also has been scouting for sites for a parking garage to serve the Mass Ave corridor and the new project. It wasn't clear whether Thursday's announcement would include details about a new parking structure.

It also wasn't clear how city officials plan to structure an incentive package for the development team, though observers expect the mix would include TIF dollars to subsidize parking.

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the Mayor's Office, declined to comment on the deal until after Thursday's press event.

J.C. Hart President John Hart and Schmidt Associates principal Wayne Schmidt did not return phone messages Wednesday afternoon.

In March, Schmidt told IBJ the team's proposed structure would “feel” like Mass Ave, but with a “contemporary bent." He declined to share renderings or a final cost, citing competitive reasons. His 100-person firm has its headquarters at Massachusetts Avenue and Vermont Street.

“We feel like we have a good, solid proposal,” Schmidt said at the time. “Our firm has been involved in the avenue through its entire rebirth. We look at Mass Ave as being our home.”

Another finalist bid, from Flaherty & Collins Properties and Insight Development Corp., proposed a project that would tie in with their $25 million development across the street, which includes a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments and retail space surrounding Barton Tower.

Other bidders included a joint effort by Milhaus Development and Shiel Sexton, and an offering by Monument Realty.

Visit and the Property Lines blog Thursday morning for updates and renderings.

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